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Do We Really Believe? How Will We Then Receive?

Do you remember that last time you held a newborn baby? Take a moment to consider the beautiful little one here with mother’s loving delicate care carefully supporting every element of the infant as if the baby is vulnerable, and sacred – because it is.

The child is vulnerable and sacred as is the Lord when He offers Himself, defenselessly, to us, in the Blessed Sacrament. Do we treat Him with the same care, or do we act as if the encounter is with a mere piece of bread or just a cup of wine?

An initial question is important for us to consider. Do we truly believe, without doubt, without reservation, without qualification, that the Lord is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and that we receive Him, consume Him, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion?

If our answer is a visceral joyful proclamation, “YES!” then we must consider another pressing question; “How could we ever approach Him without the same grave caution and care as we would a tiny defenseless child?” How could we ever choose to approach this encounter in a way that could cause injury, desecration, irreverence, or any other injustice to our precious Lord? Most, even those who’s belief is marginal, would at this point exclaim, “never!”

How can we honor Him? How can we give Him all the love and gentle reverent care He deserves because He is the Kings of Kings and He has given everything to us – and He is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Our Church teaches that this is definitively true down the last fragment of the precious Body of our Lord.

What you see in this photo is a paten. Many Catholics don’t know what this is because the vast majority of parishes do not understand or care enough to use them. A paten is used to protect the Lord in the Eucharist from being dropped on the floor and egregiously desecrated by trampling and disregard.

Think about this for a moment. The Lord is presented to us, humble and defenseless, and He is dropped and trampled…

This paten is one that a priest is holding to reveal the fragments that fell from the hands of communicants during the reception of communion during a typical Mass. These fragments of the Lord came from the simple passing of the Eucharist from the hand of the priest to the hand of the recipient which was then handled again by the recipient (as happens whenever communion is received on the hand).

Do we really believe it is the Lord? Allow me to reveal another perspective via short video to further explore this vitally important matter of our solemn worship of the King of Kings:

Please note that the hosts used here were not consecrated.

If you watch an attentive holy priest during Mass, you will notice that he habitually rubs his forefinger and thumb together over the chalice after touching the Eucharist. If you didn’t know why I suspect you do now. You can learn a lot about a priest through this simple gesture of love and care.

Here are two more brief reflections on related aspects of our reverent reception and approach to the Lord in Holy Communion:

And now to us. We are allowed to receive the Lord two ways. Do we really believe? How should we approach the Lord and receive Him in all His love and vulnerability? Should we do so in a manner we might prefer or in one more fitting for so precious an encounter?

To be more direct and to the point, if we do really believe, how can we allow for what we have seen and heard by receiving on the hand? How can we allow the increase of the handling, possible fragmentation, possible dropping of the Lord and even worse, desecration by trampling Him underfoot?

I think the answer is simple. Please honor Him the next time you receive. The norm in Apostoli Viae will always be to encounter our Lord with sacred and appropriate reverence, kneeling (if possible) and on the tongue (always). He deserves nothing less.

Self-Delusion and Godward Self-Awareness

The human person has an infinite capacity for self-delusion and little innate capacity for authentic self-knowledge.

Even so, as we draw near to Him in prayer and reflection, His light pierces our darkness and reveals the path of a liberating Godward self-awareness. This life-giving but stinging clarity reveals our profound need and draws our heart to cry out for forgiveness and healing.

This movement to humility and reliance upon God discovers the outstretched hand of Jesus that not only draws us out of the abyss of sin but then to His gentle embrace.  It is near His compassionate heart that He whispers, “I know you. I love you. I will heal you… if you will allow it.”

Don’t run. Lean into your pain. You will find Him there. “Be not afraid.” He has proven Himself worthy of your trust.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena

Dear Friends on the Way – St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s feast day is coming up on November 8th. It is a great opportunity to seek her intercession and draw wisdom and grace from her words and life.

DAY 1

Intention: For the gift of “God’s sight:” we often hear the expression, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” We can become so engrossed in the concerns and anxieties of life that we lose the “the big picture.” This big picture includes the reality that God is always at work among us. God sees everything. St. Paul often refers to God’s sight; to St. Timothy he writes, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone… This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” [I Tim 2:1, 3]

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “In the light of eternity the soul sees things as they really are.” [L 333]

Meditation: What dark ways of thinking or pre-occupations do I need to renounce in order to welcome the light of eternity in my life?  Who in particular should I pray and give thanks for?  How and where can I expand my spiritual vision to see as God sees?

NOVENA PRAYER: O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

DAY 2

Intention: For the resolve to do everything for God’s glory, with thanksgiving and charity.  It is always a temptation to allow frustration, failure or rejection to become the driving forces of our lives.  Yet we are predestined in Christ for another way of life, a life of glory filled with every spiritual blessing.  To become the praise of God’s glory, St. Paul offers three concrete principles for living: + Do everything for the glory of God. [I Cor 10:31] + Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [Col 3:17] + Let all that you do be done in love. [I Cor 16:14] Time was when the faithful had the practice of praying before beginning any activity or undertaking a task. It’s never too late to start practicing this again.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “Oh! how empty is all that has not been done for God and with God!” [L 333]

Meditation: Just for today, say a little prayer before you begin your work, your classes, your fitness workout, your time on social media, or any activity. Resolve to make that time and effort something you do for God and with God. What was the result? Did you notice a difference?

NOVENA PRAYER: O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

DAY 3

Intention: For a heart overflowing with love, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love,” St. Paul writes, “I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” [I Cor 13:1] For Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, God is present in a wholly loving way in the souls of those who cry out to Him and believe in Him by faith.  This is because baptism transforms the soul into His temple, His beloved dwelling place. Through this presence in our hearts, He is always ready to communicate the immensity of His love whenever we welcome Him.  To welcome God’s overflowing presence, she recommends that we seek to recollect ourselves and to constantly call to mind the immensity of His love – it is always more than we can imagine or hope for.  St. Paul writes, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” [Rom 5:5]

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “Mark everything with the seal of love! It alone endures.” [L 333]

Meditation: In silent prayer, reflect upon St. Elizabeth’s words, “mark everything with the seal of love.” Ask the Holy Spirit to inspire your reflection.

NOVENA PRAYER: O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

DAY 4

Intention: For the resolve to seek to be rooted deeper in God. To be rooted deeper in God requires a special kind of fidelity in which we remain in communion with love, flow into love and allow ourselves to be rooted in love.  In the face of the exceeding love of God, Saint Elizabeth proposed that each of our acts, movements, thoughts, aspirations must be rooted more deeply in love (HF 43).  She does not have in mind a passing feeling, a nice wish or a vague intention.  As she herself witnessed even during her long difficult illness, this divine gift is welcomed in the concrete circumstances of the present moment no matter how challenging. Not limited to what is convenient but instead ready for any sacrifice, God’s love in us always opens up a way to thank Christ who for our sake was crucified by love. St. Paul writes to the Ephesians that he is praying for them, that the Lord “may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” [Eph 3:16-17] And to the Colossians, he urges, “continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” [Col 2:6-7]

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “How serious life is: each minute is given us in order to “root” us deeper in God, as Saint Paul says, so the resemblance to our divine Model may be more striking, the union more intimate.” [L 333]

Meditation: What prevents you from sinking my roots deeper in God? Pray for the grace to let go.

NOVENA PRAYER: O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

DAY 5

Intention: To share in the self-giving love of Christ “Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind,” St. Paul wrote to the Philippians. [Phil 2:2] The union of believers in the Church was Paul’s one, great goal. How to achieve it? “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself…” [Phil 2:5-7] For the Carmelite, union with God is the one, great goal, and the means to achieve it are similar: the self-emptying, self-giving love of Christ. Saint Elizabeth said that to achieve this self-emptying, we must study Christ and concentrate on His devotion to accomplishing the will of the Father.  With Christ, we must learn to say “Here we are, O Father, we come to do your will.”

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “Here is the secret: forget self, give up self, ignore self, look at the Master, look only at Him, accept as coming directly from His love both joy and suffering; this places the soul on such serene heights!” [L 333]

Meditation: Use St. Elizabeth’s quote to make a spiritual checklist for yourself. Resolve to practice one point on the checklist for one day, or one week, or one month. Review your progress with your confessor or spiritual director.

NOVENA PRAYER: O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

DAY 6

Intention: For an increase in faith in the presence of God dwelling within St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was a true daughter of her Holy Mother, St. Teresa of Avila. One of St. Teresa’s most famous dictums concerning prayer that has guided Carmelites through all generations is this: “Keeping Christ present is what we of ourselves can do.” This method of prayer, taught and recommended by the Discalced Carmelite friar of Paris, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, [The Practice of the Presence of God; ICS Publications, 1994, 2015] was well known to St. Elizabeth. Perhaps she knew of St. Teresa’s method of keeping Christ present before she entered the Carmel of Dijon; certainly, she learned this method as she studied the works of St. Teresa, especially The Book of Her Life, Chapter 12, where the Saint explains the beginning stage of prayer. For St. Elizabeth, this practice of the presence of God is the springboard in prayer by which she dives deep into the abyss of mercy, the indwelling presence of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. St. Elizabeth experienced the abiding presence of God; by faith she knew the truth of St. Paul’s promise to the Romans: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” [Rom 5:5]

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “I leave you my faith in the presence of God, of the God who is all Love dwelling in our souls.” [L 333]

Meditation: Just for today, practice being aware of the presence of God within you. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you to be mindful of God’s presence.

NOVENA PRAYER: O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

DAY 7

Intention: For the grace of a greater intimacy with Christ Intimacy with Christ: it sounds like a wonderful thing, but we may think, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.” [Ps 139:6] On the contrary, intimacy with Jesus is a frequent theme in the homilies of Pope Francis, who always emphasizes how close the Lord is to us and how he never leaves us:

The Lord is a friend forever. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself…  The Lord… is always with you and he is happy to be with you. As he did with his first disciples, he looks you in the eye and he calls you to follow him, to “put out into the deep” and to “cast your nets wide” trusting in his words and using your talents in life, in union with him, without fear. Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say “yes”. [Homily, Jubilee for Boys and Girls, 24 April 2016]

Practicing the presence of God, St. Elizabeth grew in this friendship and intimacy with the Lord to the point that his presence became her sustenance in darkness and suffering. Like St. Paul, she desires that we might grow in this love, too, so that we may “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” [Eph 3:19]

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “It is this intimacy with Him “within” that has been the beautiful sun illuminating my life, making it already an anticipated Heaven; it is what sustains me today in my suffering.” [L 333]

Meditation: Consider the points of suffering in your life. Jesus loves you infinitely! Are you permitting his love to sustain you in your suffering? Where are you trying to bear your burdens alone? Let him love you and uphold you.

NOVENA PRAYER: O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

DAY 8

Intention: For the grace of confidence in God’s power Here’s a Carmelite quiz: who wrote it? “The Almighty has done great things in the soul of His divine Mother’s child, and the greatest thing is to have shown her her littleness, her powerlessness.” St. Paul said that he was “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” [II Cor 12:10] St. Elizabeth was a great disciple of her beloved St. Paul, singing and praising the power of God each day in the Liturgy of the Hours. Even in her suffering, she trusted in his power, just as her “little sister” in Lisieux had done ten years before. The answer to our quiz? Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. [Story of a Soul, Ms C 04r]

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “I do not fear my weakness; that’s what gives me confidence. For the Strong One is within me and His power is almighty.” [L 333]

Meditation: Make a list of those aspects of your character or behavior that you consider to be your principal weaknesses. As you pray, next to each weakness write down an aspect of God’s character that demonstrates his power in comparison to your weakness. For example, if you often feel fearful, make a note that God gives courage. If your heart is broken, make a note that God grants healing. In prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to show you one point of God’s strength where he can overcome one of your weaknesses. Resolve to focus on his power at that point in your life. Share your progress with your confessor or spiritual director.

NOVENA PRAYER: O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

DAY 9

Intention: For the grace to give everything to the Master: It was the end of October when St. Elizabeth wrote the letter that has served as the prayerful foundation for our novena meditations. She was certain that she would die soon, and this letter to a dear friend served as her “spiritual testament.” At the head of the letter, she wrote this inscription: “Deus charitas est (God is love),” [I Jn 4:16] and she continued: “the hour is drawing near when I am going to pass from this world to my Father…” Totally surrendered to God, in an attitude of complete abandonment and self-giving to the Lord, she was prepared to meet her Spouse, the Bridegroom of her soul. Emptied of self, she was overflowing with divine love. She describes this as she writes: “Never was the heart of the Master so overflowing with love as at the supreme moment when he was going to leave his own! It seems to me as if something similar is happening in His little bride at the evening of her life, and I feel as if a wave were rising from my heart to yours! Dear Antoinette, in the light of eternity, the soul sees things as they really are.” And so, our novena comes full circle. Like St. Paul at his farewell to the elders of Ephesus, [cf. Ac 20:17-37] St. Elizabeth knows that what is essential counts. And, the example of self-giving and abandonment to Christ that she offers to us is the same example that we are called to offer to others. This is our vocation: to become great saints like Elizabeth of the Trinity. And to ensure that we are on the path to sainthood, she wants to help us in her own Totus Tuus way. Why not say yes? Say yes to holiness, yes to Elizabeth, say yes to Christ!

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “When I am up above, will you let me help you, scold you even, if I see you are not giving everything to the Master? because I love you! … May He keep you wholly His, wholly faithful; in Him I will always be WHOLLY YOURS.” [L 333]

Meditation: In silent prayer, turn to Saint Elizabeth in your need. She is up above, ready to help you because she loves you. Ask her to show you how to give everything to the Master, Jesus Christ, in trust and love. Entrust yourself entirely to him as she did – he will keep you entirely his own!

NOVENA PRAYER: O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of myself so that I may establish myself in you, as changeless and calm as though my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth f from you, O my unchanging God, but at every moment may I penetrate more deeply into the depths of your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your cherished dwelling-place and the place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but keep me there, wholly attentive, wholly alert in my faith, wholly adoring and fully given up to your creative action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, I long to be the bride of your heart. I long to cover you with glory, to love you even unto death! Yet I sense my powerlessness and beg you to clothe me with yourself. Identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself for me, so that my life may become a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, as Redeemer, and as Saviour.

O Eternal Word, utterance of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, to become totally teachable so that I might learn all from you. Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light. O my Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, overshadow me so that the Word may be, as it were incarnate again in my soul. May I be for him a new humanity in which he can renew all his mystery. And you, O Father, bend down towards your poor little creature. Cover her with your shadow, see in her only your beloved son in who you are well pleased.

O my ‘Three’, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you as your prey. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until I go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your splendour! [The Trinitarian Prayer of Elizabeth of the Trinity]

Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s excerpts from Letter 333 to Madame Antoinette de Bobet are published in: I HAVE FOUND GOD, COMPLETE WORKS II— LETTERS FROM CARMEL a translation ofJ’ai trouvé Dieu, Oeuvres Complètes, Tome I/ B (Les Éditions du Cerf, 1980) Copyright © by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc. 1995, 2014 ICS Publications 2131 Lincoln Road NE Washington, DC 20002-1199

Why do you wear your scapular that way?

Question: Why do you wear the scapular the way you do? Do you expect members of Apostoli Viae to do the same?

Answer: The second question is easy, so we will address that one first. The answer is no. See, that was easy.

The first question is more complex. One of the most sobering experiences in seminary was the requirement to wear clerics and a cassock. Even though I was only a postulant for holy orders, I was expected to wear my black shirt, collar, and cassock when I was on seminary grounds.

I remember putting on the clerics and the cassock for the first time. These words came to mind, “From dust, you have come, to dust you shall return.” I associated these garments with death. As I allowed them to cover or bury my body – me, I was profoundly aware that I was making a commitment to give the entirety of my life to God – I was no longer my own. These black garments were a mark of the death of my old life – the disappearance of my will and the complete yielding to the will of God. “I am no longer my own. I belong entirely to Him. This will never change. I am His for the rest of my life.”

These garments were and are a proclamation of the profound nature of our belonging, calling, and commitments to God.

The Audiences of Our Proclamation

To God: Regarding religious habits and scapulars, we should ask “To whom is the symbol speaking and what is the message?” In our reflection thus far you can see that this outward symbol is first a proclamation to God. This proclamation is “Jesus I give everything to you.” I no longer need to be distinguished by my personality and personal tastes but instead by my association with God, by His will and desire.

To Myself: The second audience of this proclamation is me. What I wear, what I put closest to my skin, says to me, it reinforces to me, who I am. So when I wear a cassock and a collar and I’m headed toward classes in the seminary, and I look in the mirror, I am reinforcing this reality – “I made this commitment to God, and I stand in that commitment. He must increase, and I must decrease.”

To the World: The third audience for the proclamation of a religious garment is the world.  It’s a not a proclamation of pride like we see in the Pharisees or the clericalist that proclaims “I’m special. I’m wearing this thing, therefore, treat me in a special way.” Instead, it is a proclamation of humility that says “it is not I that live but Christ that lives in me.”

Specific Symbols

The Cross: The cross is the most prominent aspect of our scapular. We wear both a cross and a crucifix, as symbols of death and resurrection. Both point to Christ crucified for the world, and my wearing of it is a proclamation of my identity with it. I am His; His life is my life, the way He lives is the way I want to live, the way He gave is the way I want to give.

The Scapular Itself (Brown Pieces of Cloth): For a participant in Apostoli Viae, the scapular is the symbol of Mary’s Fiat, and it has two dimensions. The first dimension is that she is the exemplar of what it means to say “yes” to God and so in wearing this we proclaim that we desire to emulate her in this complete “yes” to God. Secondarily we wear it as a prayer for her intercession to teach us how to say yes to Jesus, to sustain us and care for us in the battle against the world the flesh and the devil.

The Saints: Then we have the Saints and the communion of saints with a medal depicting St. John of the cross and St. Teresa of Avila. These saints and the tradition of the scapular itself represent a filial connection to Carmelite spirituality and the path of prayer and ascesis that we embrace. And so the way that we travel the narrow way is best understood through the eyes of these great holy reformers and their spiritual patrimony. By wearing their images, we also invoke their intercession.

Unique Apostoli Viae Elements: The unique elements of the scapular for those who are disciples and beyond are the “A” and the “V” in their respective upper corners which point to Apostoli Viae. Wearing this scapular proclaims what we are Apostles of the Way.  The “U” and the “N” in their respective lower corners remind us of our motto, “Unum est Necessarium.” This represents our primal desire and aim –  to sit at the feet of Jesus.

Finally, this clothing, this habit, this scapular, is a symbol of my need and my dependence. I need God. I need the blessed mother. I am lost without Jesus. This is a personal proclamation to the world that we all need Jesus and we’re all lost without Him. If we would but say yes to him, as Mary did, we would find and be able to stay on the narrow way until we see him face-to-face.

Here’s a video on the same topic:

AVTV Why Do You Wear Your Scapular That Way? from Avila Institute on Vimeo.

Recommended Sojourner Reading Program

Update: Dear friends, I decided to update this post to draw it to your attention for summer reading.

Question: What books do you recommend for Sojourners?

Answer: Sojourners have an informal relationship with Apostoli Viae and are thus under no obligation for any particular path of formation. However, If the Sojourner has a desire for deeper association, it makes sense that they would begin pursuing formation and commitments that would prepare them for deeper affiliation and that would allow them to grow spiritually and more effectively discern the path that God has called them to.

All Apostoli Viae formation can be understood through two diagrams or graphic representations of the charism. The first is our crest; the second is the Way of Ascent diagram here. Each reinforces the other and reveals formation priorities for all engaged with the Way. Both reveal sacramental participation as foundational to spiritual progress. Beyond this foundation, we then look to other foundational elements in prayer and ascesis. Where does this lead regarding spiritual reading for a Sojourner?

The first place to begin all reading on any topic in the Church is the Catechism. The four pillars of the Catechism correspond perfectly to our foundational emphases. Thus, the most important document to read, end to end, is the Catechism. If this feels like a bit too much to bite off, then the Compendium to the Catechism can be a great place to start. It is very brief and clear. Regardless, association beyond the Sojourner stage requires complete assent to all the teachings of the Church, and thus the Catechism is necessary reading for Disciples.

The second path of emphasis is mental prayer. Those who enter into Discipleship with Apostoli Viae will all have at least a basic commitment to daily mental prayer. Here are a few foundational texts on prayer and peace, in order of importance, and one on discernment that we recommend (along with links):

One more book that will help you understand our approach to progress in the interior life is Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. This book provides a concise overview of spiritual progress from the beginning stages to the realm of sainthood.

Beyond these texts, the journey more deeply into the Way will reveal a six-year systematic formation program that has essential reading and recommended texts along the way. The adventure into the heart of God is always rich and beautiful, and this path of formation will no doubt be a life-changing experience for those called to it.

Fire on Earth – Fire from Above

“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” St. Luke 12:49

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I write this letter to you from Costa Rica where we are resting and will celebrate the 80th birthday of a much loved family member. Please keep Maria de los Angeles and all of us in your prayers. You were all in my prayers at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this morning (this letter is coming a day or so later due to the blessed lack of internet access here).

I have taken a few photos that you might find interesting and one providential circumstance that made me smile. The beautiful flower that you see in as the featured photo of this post is called a Eucharist Flower. My aunt-in-law indicates that this plant, which is quite old, is supposed to bloom once per year. However I was told that this one never flowered until we arrived.

This morning we attended Mass at St. Vincent’s de Moravia. Here are a few photos of that beautiful parish. The cantor had a beautiful voice and it was a delight to attend a reverent Mass in such a beautiful place.

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The is a picture of my prayer area during our stay with family in Moravia.img_1865

It is always a challenge to keep my prayer life consistent when boarding with others, even family. I prayed this morning that I would be able to pray even in the midst of interruptions. Our Lord is very kind and He granted my request. It is a remarkable experience to be totally present to someone speaking with you all the while being present to the Lord as if alone with Him.

The last photo I will share with you is of an active volcano that we can see from where we are staying. At the moment we cannot see the volcano but what we are looking at in this photo is ash and smoke.

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As I consider this destructive power of this active volcano I am reminded of the fires of satan that burn in the hearts and minds in the United States and around the world. This burning of confusion is manifesting externally in protests in the streets in the U.S. I had expected the same if the other party had won.

This election cycle has revealed a truth that I was already aware of but that manifested a disturbing depth of penetration in our culture. This truth is that the enemy owns very many hearts and minds on both the left and the right and has a strong influence on the unfaithful.

The evil one also has a strong presence even among the orthodox. Some of this recently manifested against me when I defended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as an order of magnitude more sacred and inviolably important than even holy efforts to mitigate the most grave moral evil of our time. I won’t venture further into this issue –  I suspect many of you instinctively understand.

Though the fires of satan burn and the Volcano of a deeply confused society threatens to erupt against the faithful, I am struck by a profound peace.

My peace does not come from the political party in power – only fools rest in this kind of temporal power. Please allow me to repeat this. Only fools find peace in temporal power, however favorable. Instead my peace comes through the grace of God – a deep trust in His providence and love. For this I am grateful – it is certainly a gift and not something I deserve or can attain on my own.

My consolation is also rooted in another fire burning on the earth. The fires of satan are like a grain of sand on the seashore as compared with the power of the fire of God burning in the hearts of His faithful.

This fire of God draws men and women of faith to Him. This fire leads them to draw near in the Eucharist and oracion mental. This fire, the purifying and vivifying presence and work of God in our hearts, is the fire that can and will change the world if we will yield to it and fuel it with our “yes.”

As we say “yes” to God, our fire grows and becomes a bright beacon of hope to the world. God then uses us to become a place of warmth from the cold, shelter from the storm and healing from the wounds inflicted by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

This fire, the fire of oracion mental, this fire that Christ called the “one thing necessary” is the fire of prayer – the fire of union with God.

All of this has impressed upon me the urgency of the mission of Apostoli Viae to live, light, and lead God’s people to the path of contemplation. This path is the path that will bring revival because it revives the fire in souls who have been luke warm and fans the flames of the fervent. It fuels the fires of God – the light of Christ – the hope of the world.

Say “yes” to Him. Don’t hold back. It will not be easy but you will never regret it and you will find peace in the storm.

Unum est Necessarium

Dan